My, my, time sure does fly. I think this now as I sit here in an airport lounge in Bangkok, drinking a breakfast Bloody Mary. This feeling was even stronger a few days back as I sat, slightly seasick and even more hungover, on a ferry to Padang Bai from the Gili Islands in Indonesia. The ferry was running an hour and a half late and I was on my way to the airport to meet my friends to collect my suitcase and to kiss them goodbye. By the time the boat had finally landed at the port, the boat operators insisted I had better pay them an additional 500,000.00 Rupiah (yep, half a cool mil) to get a taxi straight away if I did not want to miss my flight. Even then, they did not guarantee that I would arrive on time, that I would very likely miss my flight anyway. This is coming from the same company who just made me almost two hours late in the first place and would not even offer me a partial refund even though the fare included an airport transfer. What sort of racket have they got going here? Anyway, I gave up arguing with the obstinate and unhelpful boat monopoly man and walked around the corner. There was a sweet and pregnant lady, standing in a shop advertising laundry services and motorcycle hire. I asked her if she knew of any motorcycle taxis. She phoned her husband, I offered all the cash I had in my purse, and in 10 minutes a man on motorcycle arrived to take me to the airport. Before climbing aboard, I was asked my name and where I am from. I said that I live in London. The man is a football fan and asks me if I know Wayne Rooney. The journey thus far was nerve-wracking and stressful but in a minute something happens that changes everything. My motorcycle man turns back to me while driving to ask me a question. Wind in my ears and catching the words as they fly past, I ask him to repeat it a few times. I finally understand. He says, ‘Do you want me to drive slow or do you want me to drive fast?’ ‘Fast’ I said, ‘fast!’ I knew then and there that I would make the flight and that I would be going home after all. We practically flew to the airport, I can almost still feel the sensation of wind whipping all around me, and arrived there just in the nick of time.
The Gili Islands were wonderful and magical, and I remembered some things I had forgotten somewhere. Coming out of my hotel room the first morning I woke there, I found a couple from London sitting there on my beach. New friends. This delightful pair, Welsh Dylan (Dilaaan), and Bengali Bip, and I (amanda panda), made fast friends and before long were skipping around the island, riding on horse-drawn carriages, snorkeling, snapping photos, giggling, and laying on sandy beaches staring at the stars contemplating the meaning of life. Bip, this young dynamo, has an absolutely infectious excitement for all things life, and, not unlike an overgrown five-year old (I mean this as a compliment Bipi), she really knows how to play and have fun. Have a look at her very colorful blog which she posts EVERY DAY, BIPLING.COM We could probably all do with a bit more fun in our lives, god knows I can take things too seriously sometimes, and a little reminder that letting that child out to play can do a world of good. It can feel just like going back to where we all came from. Best answer I’ve ever heard to that same old question, ‘Where are you from?’ (as told to me on Gili Trawangan): ‘From my mother. Same place as you.’ Hilarious. The worst answer to the same question: (as told to me on Koh Phangnan, Thailand), ‘We are all from right here, in this moment.’ F U, you self-righteous, old hippie.
And now, as I lay here writing in my wonderful bed, recovering from the 12 hour flight from Bangkok to London, I think about home and what that means. Traveling does make you think about what constitutes a home. So, I have flown, halfway across the world, to the place in London that I usually call home, only to find a letter in the mailbox that alerts me to the fact that soon I may have to find a new place to hang my toothbrush. Soon, I will go ‘home’ to Florida (where I haven’t lived since 1993) for my sister Hayley’s wedding. If ‘home is where the heart is’, then my heart has been a nomad for some time. Whilst on Koh Phangnan, the resident astrologer did my chart and told me that I would meet or be joined with my husband in early September of this year. (This made Bipi angry as she hates astrology: mimicking a man walking up to me, arm outstretched to shake my hand, she mocked, ‘Hi, I’m your husband. Nice to meet you’.) My heart has taken repose in so many wonderful places, and experienced so much delicious love along the way, perhaps there is no ultimate love or home outside myself that I am traveling towards. Maybe the ultimate completion is to find yourself wholly at home in your own heart. I’ll keep you posted. LOADS OF LOVE!!! XXX